As the baby boomer generation ages, their need for legal services will also grow in ways that they may not initially expect. With longer lifespans and advancements in the medical field comes the fact that a person in New Jersey could be physically or mentally incapacitated for months or even years before passing away. Baby boomers need to prepare for this possibility by ensuring they have the proper legal documents in place that will dictate what their wishes are.
For example, if a person believes they will be depending on Medicaid to pay for their medical needs as they age, they may need to have the proper long-term care plan in place that will allow them to do so while still retaining as much of their estate as possible. In the event that they can no longer take care of their own affairs, individuals should have the proper legal documents that determine who will have guardianship of their person and estate. And, of course, if a person has a will or trust, then probate or trust administration will become an issue that can be addressed beforehand.
All of these documents fall under the umbrella of elder law. It is a growing area of law, that highlights the end-of-life issues a person can plan for well beforehand. Of course, not everyone will take advantage of the fact that they can plan for long-term care, incapacity and probate and trust administration, among other elder law issues. Unfortunately, these people may find that without an estate plan that addresses elder law issues in place, their end-of-life wishes are not being met, because it is the court that is making the decisions for them.
In the end, it is important to plan for your elder years before you reach them. After all, a person these days could easily live to be an octogenarian or even older. However, with age naturally comes an eventual decline in health. It is best to be prepared by having chosen a guardian, established a long-term care plan and having an estate plan in place. Elder law issues should not be swept under the rug, but instead should be addressed in a proactive manner.
Source: the balance, “What is Elder Law?,” Julie Garber, April 26, 2018